This year’s Royal Ascot may be missing a crowd and its most familiar face but expect winners' enclosure regulars Aidan O’Brien and Frankie Dettori to pick up where they left off last year, writes James Toney.
Twelve months on from finishing as the meeting’s top trainer and jockey for the tenth and sixth time respectively, they’ve got plenty of chances to get back on the horse.
O'Brien, now within 11 wins of Royal Ascot's all-time leading trainer Sir Michael Stoute, will be hoping Circus Maximus gets him off the mark in the first Group One of the week, the Queen Anne Stakes (1.50pm).
Ryan Moore guided the horse to the narrowest of victories in last year’s St James's Palace Stakes but John Gosden’s TEREBELLUM - Frankie Dettori taking the ride - could upset the odds in his first race for a year.
That could be be followed in quick order by another Gosden and Dettori charge with FRANKLY DARLING looking primed for the Ribblesdale Stakes (2.25pm) after an effortless win on his season debut at Newcastle just over two weeks ago.
MOGUL is considered O’Brien’s best hope for an eighth success in the Epsom Derby next month and will start his season as the top pick in the King Edward VII Stakes (3pm).
The horse did little wrong as a juvenile and has form with impressive Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Kameko and will certainly appreciate his first race over more than a mile.
BATTAASH can batter the bookers to underline his status as the sharpest sprinter in Europe in the 'blink and you’ll miss it' King's Stand Stakes (3.35pm) over an electric five furlongs.
Charles Hills' speedster has finished second in this race twice - both times narrowly beaten by superstar Blue Point and can be excused his horror show at the Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye in Paris where the very soft ground clearly didn't suit.
And Gosden’s NAZEEF looks set to improve on his season debut at Kempton earlier this month and extend his winning run to five in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes (4.10pm).
Meanwhile, jumps legend Nicky Henderson looks primed to land the Ascot Stakes for the second time in his career with VERDANA BLUE, a former Scottish Champion Hurdle winner who'll relish the rattling quick ground, his hope.
Royal Ascot 2020 previews
National Hunt trainers have a strong pedigree in this race in recent years but Sir Mark Prescott’s Land of Oz looks an interesting alternative at a more encouraging price.
New races have been added to this year’s Royal Ascot card as officials try to make up for the time lost in recent weeks and the new-look opener, the Buckingham Palace Handicap (1.15pm) looks a wide open affair.
Course and distance form tends to dictate the big handicaps at the royal meeting and that means you can dismiss many of the expected 24-strong field.
There are plenty of options to consider at big prices including Glen Shiel, looking to give Hollie Doyle her first Royal Ascot winner, and the well-weighted Flaming Spear, who has an interesting record when primed against big fields.
Favourite Daarik is certainly talented but a career littered with long breaks off the track hasn’t helped and that means KAESO is preferred in the hands of Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy.
Today’s Royal Ascot Selections: 1.15 Glen Shiels (e/w), 1.50 Terebellum, 2.25 Frankly Darling, 3.00 Mogul, 3.35 Battaash, 4.10 Nazeef, 4.40 Verdana Blue